The Tennessee Volunteers take on the No. 1 ranked LSU Tigers this weekend in Knoxville on Saturday. It's going to be epic.
And by epic, I mean absolutely terrible for the Vols.
After the loss of Tyler Bray for about one month, Tennessee will be playing LSU, a team that's firing on all cylinders, at less than full strength. Does anyone else feel uneasy a out about the bout in Neyland Stadium?
But hey, you never know in sports. Crazier things have happened in life...right?
The Tennessee Volunteers will need Matt Simms to find the gene that his father, Hall of Famer Phill Simms, bestowed upon him in the quarterback arena. He can't turn the ball over at all. He must make at least three key third conversions. He has to beat an LSU defense that no one else has.
Tauren Poole and the offensive line, to put it simply, need to not suck. Poole ran for 100 yards in six separate games last year. This year, he has managed just two against the vaunted Cincinnati and Buffalo defense. Against an LSU defense that allows less than 70 yards per game, Poole will have to have the game of his career.
Da'Rick Rogers has to find his inner self plus Justin Hunter times Randy Moss ([DR+JH]*RM]). In order to open up the defense for Poole, Rogers will have to coordinate with Simms and hit the Tiger defense for at least two deep balls.
The defense can't get beat like it did against he average Georgia defense that featured a freshman receiver that the Vol defensive backs simply couldn't catch. This week, it will be Rueben Randle, who is (significantly) better than any receiver on Georgia's roster.
Kicker Michael Palardy can't miss any extra points. I know that's asking a lot, but it's time for the once top ranked kicker to grow up and be a man.
Show up to the game on time and play.
The LSU-Tennessee spread opened at LSU Tigers -14.5. In less than a day, the line moved up to LSU -17.5, a three-point swing that I haven't seen all year.
The line now stands at LSU -18 and will only get higher. LSU beat Florida by 30 last week. Florida beat Tennessee by 10. True, Florida bested Tennessee in Gainesville, and LSU topped Florida in Baton Rouge, but how many points is home field advantage worth these days? 45 points?
As gameday draws nearer, I expect this line to continue to grow in LSU's favor. They are the No.1 team in the nation and are playing a below average team that as numerous key injuries.
I've heard way too much "hot seat" talk about Tennessee head coach Derek Dooley. It's time to debunk those ridiculous accusations.
First, we expected the Volunteers to go 7-5 or 6-6 this year. If Dooley wins and loses all the games that he "should," Tennessee will be 6-6. Why would anyone be in trouble for meeting expectations? If you didn't like 6-6, you would've been one who put him on the hot seat preseason, and there were none that did.
Second, there have been just a few key injuries. Herman Lathers' injury has forced the Vols to play two freshmen linebackers, leading to continuous dump offs to Chris Rainey that went for long runs. Justin Hunter is a top three wide receiver in the country, and his loss was a season-changer for the Big Orange. Tyler Bray...if I have to explain losing a starting quarterback, then we need to have a different conversation.
Third, there is no coach in football, including the NFL, that could win either of the next two games with this team. Bill Belichick couldn't come in from the New England Patriots and beat either LSU or Alabama, so the fact that Dooley won't be able to should be moot—no one could with our freshmen and sophomores.
Fourth, he has brought in three top 15 recruiting classes, the first in just four weeks after Lane Kiffin abandoned the Vols. He continues to promote loyalty, intelligence and character in his incoming players, and yet, they're still ranked in the top 10 percent of all of the FBS. Is it possible that Dooley is finding great players and great people at the same time?
Fifth, chill out. The dude has coached less than one and a half seasons. If you're one that wants him fired, I want to recommend that you shouldn't trade in the stock market. Your kneejerk personality is not conducive to long-term thinking.
LSU is coming off a 41-11 beatdown of once ranked Florida, who beat Tennessee handily. If Tennessee can only muster 12 against a mediocre Georgia defense, I cringe to imagine what will happen this weekend against the great Tiger defense.
I would love to be wrong, but I'm afraid that this is one of those games that we'll think about when we beat LSU in five or six years.
LSU 40-Tennessee 13